And rightly so. Recruitment itself takes time and money. And the stakes are high for school leaders for whom the quality of teaching is usually a prime concern.
Also, teaching is a complex, dynamic profession. It requires intelligent, flexible, responsive individuals to make effective use of a range of strategies for ensuring that the pupils in their classes make progress. By observing you teach a lesson, and witnessing your practical abilities, a potential employer is in a much stronger position to confidently make you a job offer.
So, if you are in training you are likely to be asked to teach a lesson, or part of a lesson, as part of an interview process or for acceptance into a council or local authority's NQT pool. The key points described below can be used to help you to prepare, and ensure that your demo lesson progresses well:
- Pin down your learning intention. Remember that the intended learning (the planned learning objective, learning intention or WALT - 'we are learning to/today') should not describe the task that children will complete. For example, "to write a poem" is an activity, not a learning objective.
- Keep your plan simple, and focused on the intended learning.
- Plan for an additional adult, if it is at all likely that you'll have someone you'll be able to deploy.
- Provide a copy of your plan for the observer/s.
- Plan to allow pupils to articulate what it is they are learning.
- Specifically introduce and explain key vocabulary. Give children the opportunity to use it in partner talk before you expect them to apply it independently.
- Limiting your language to key planned vocabulary may help to ensure a clear learning journey for pupils.
- Avoid lengthy writing activities (unless you're instructed otherwise). Ensure that any writing is well supported and that you display key vocabulary.
- Supporting any instruction or activity with images, photographs, signs or symbols, or real objects, is likely to aid pace and progress, and impress an observer.
- Remember that good pace doesn't necessarily equal fast pace. For example, give children time to digest questions, develop their ideas, and formulate appropriate answers.
- Ensure that books or poems shared with pupils are age appropriate. Some picture books (e.g. those by Oliver Jeffers, Shaun Tan or Anthony Browne) have a richness and depth that make them appropriate for wide age ranges.
- Have a contingency for failing technology. Have a good balance between virtual and physical resources.
- Consider the ways you will assess pupil progress, during and at the end of the lesson.
- Be prepared to make judgements about the success of your lesson, based on the progress that the pupils have made.
A final thought. Remember that the unpredictable nature of the classroom environment is such that even the best-planned lessons may not always go as well as you'd like them to. Commit to learning from the experience, however good or bad your lesson is judged to be: A judgement on the quality of your lesson is a professional one, not a personal one!
Best of luck!
Beere, J. (2012) The Perfect (Ofsted) Lesson: Revised and Updated. Crown House Publishing
Thanks to Julie Gariazzo & Alison Baker for contributing.